DE International Awards 2018

Left to right: Mark Scott, Secretary, Department of Education with Sam Lee, Betty Bi, Mahime Watanabe and Murat Dizdar, Deputy Secretary, School Operations and Performance.

Left to right: Mark Scott, Secretary, Department of Education with Sam Lee, Betty Bi, Mahime Watanabe and Murat Dizdar, Deputy Secretary, School Operations and Performance.

International students enrolled in NSW government schools were recognised for their outstanding achievements and contributions at the NSW Department of Education International Student Awards in Sydney on 22 February 2018.

Three awards were presented at the ceremony:

  • Sam Lee, from Korea won the Leadership Award
  • Mahime Watanabe, from Japan won the School Service Award
  • Betty Bi, from China won the Academic Achievement Award.

In its tenth year, the award ceremony was held at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Each of the winners was presented with a trophy, a certificate and a cheque for $1,000.

Sam Lee was presented with the Leadership Award by the Hon. Victor Dominello MP, NSW Minister for Finance, Services and Property. Minister Dominello congratulated the award nominees and winners for their outstanding achievements. He noted the importance of international education to NSW and how international students enrich the social fabric of our communities.

The School Service Award was presented to Mahime Watanabe from Japan by Mr Mark Scott, Secretary, NSW Department of Education, who said of the winners, "These students have met the challenges of living and studying in a new country and have made the experience richer by embracing every opportunity to become involved in school and community activities." He also acknowledged the work of schools in helping international and local students to develop skills in global citizenship.

The award for outstanding Academic Achievement was presented to Betty Bi, by Murat Dizdar, Deputy Secretary, School and Operations and Performance, NSW Department of Education. Mr Dizdar thanked the schools and their staff for their quality teaching and support of students to enable them to achieve these outstanding results.

Sam Lee from Castle Hill High School received the Leadership Award for demonstrating commitment and leadership in the role of school prefect, being an excellent ambassador for the school, mentoring other international students and assisting with school and community events. He says his greatest achievement at school, "…was definitely being part of the prefect team because it gave me so many opportunities to engage with other people…to make great connections with people outside of school."

Mahime Watanabe, who studied at Rose Bay Secondary College, won the School Service Award for contributions to her school and local community, through representation on the Student Representative Council (SRC), the organisation of several charity events and championing environmental change as the school's Environment Captain. Mahime's advice to students considering studying at a NSW government school is, "…whether coming to Australia to study or…trying for a sporting team at school, just be brave and conquer all the challenges that are out there, because sometimes you can surprise yourself by challenging yourself."

Betty Bi, winner of the Academic Achievement Award, received an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of 99.85 and was first in a strong field with five other international students with ATARs of above 99. Betty studied at Burwood Girls High School and cherishes the experience: "I feel appreciated in my school and our school even arranges all sorts of events for us international students and for all their students. They want to make us students feel at home."

This year there were 19 students nominated for the School Service award, 11 for Leadership and 43 for Academic Achievement. Award finalists were from eight countries – China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, The Philippines and India.

In 2017, 722 international students attending NSW government schools completed the Higher School Certificate with 198 students listed on the Distinguished Achievers list.

For further information about the department's International Students Program go to

2018 International Student Awards officials, nominees and winners.